PORTSMOUTH — Photographer Emily Brackett said the timing was just right to open her downtown store, Live Free Photography.
“I love this space and this is what I want to do,” Brackett said. “I’m young and feel like I had to do it now or not at all. I chose now.”
At a glance
Live Free Photography
Owner: Emily Brackett
Address: 16 Sheafe St., Portsmouth
Hours: Every day except Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Brackett originally opened her store in Newmarket, but wanted to be in Portsmouth. A native of Portsmouth, she lives in Newmarket. Originally a major in fashion design at an art school in Massachusetts, Brackett said she found it wasn’t what she was looking for in a career.
“I traveled and took my first photography class in London,” she said. “It was love at first sight. I traveled some more in Europe and came back to study photography in Massachusetts.”
She worked at a camera store in Dover, exchanged cameras at the now defunct Eagle Photo and worked in photo labs. Through these jobs and her love of photography, she knew what was needed.
“With digital cameras, people just snap away and store in their computers,” Brackett said. “Or, they take the photos to print at a mass market, computerized place.”
Such outlets do not perform a custom job, she said. The machines scan the first few photos and print the entire group of photos the same way. “Here, I print each photo separately and make certain each one is exactly right,” she said. “More people want this sort of personalized and good service. We’re talking about photographs that will last.”
Preserving family memories is what Live Free Photography is all about. Brackett recalled a story of a boy asking his mother why there weren’t any photos of him as a baby and the mother’s reply was, “My laptop crashed.”
“All the specialty printing is done by me, in my workshop,” Brackett said. “The work is not sent out to another source.”
One thing people appreciate is being able to transfer their slides and old photographs to a restored state that will survive time, she said.
Live Free Photography offers a wide range of services and supplies. Photo restoration is a big part of the business as is printing photographs on canvas. Brackett transfers home movies to DVD, 16mm, 8mm, Super 8, VHS and more. A full line of photo supplies is also available, including Kodak, Fuji and Ilford.
Another service of Live Free Photography is putting an artist’s work on note cards and/or reproducing it as prints. Already, Brackett has some clients and their art is on display. She also sells a selection of frames and supplies.
“I also carry supplies for UNH darkroom students,” Brackett said. “I put together kits for their classes and also do it for some high school classes that still have darkrooms.”
Brackett will soon offer individual and group classes on using digital cameras and the latest techniques. “I like to think of my store as a photographic resource,” she said. “Since Eagle left, there hasn’t been a shop like this in downtown Portsmouth.”
Brackett said she found a real need for her services when she had her shop in Newmarket.
“People want help in profiling their computers,” she said. “Learning how to scan and working with digital can be so easy if you have someone to help and teach you. I want to be that person.”
Brackett emphasized she wants people to feel free to walk in and talk to her and get personalized help with their digital camera.
Brackett believes people don’t print enough and some print on low quality paper that won’t stand the test of time. “It’s nice to put a photo album out and be able to look at it without standing around someone’s computer screen,” she said.
While Brackett admits to some concerns about the current economic situation, she is confident her move to Portsmouth was right.
“The people in the neighborhood and my landlords have been wonderful, very supportive,” she said. “This definitely helps me to stay positive.”
In addition to her client services, Brackett’s own work is displayed on the walls of her store. “I’m very happy to be able to put my past experience to use now,” she said.